There was a three-way tie for the lead at the end of the opening round at the Panasonic Open India golff event as two Australians, Kieran Pratt and Wade Ormsby, and Singaporean Lam Chih Bing shared the honours with rounds of five-under 67 each at the demanding and windy Delhi Golf Club here Thursday.
Two shots behind them was the best Indian in sole fourth, S.S.P. Chowrasia, a two-time winner of co-sanctioned events, at three-under 69, while seven players were at two-under 70 and another 17 at one-under 71.
While Ormsby and Pratt came back with bogey-free rounds, Lam had one bogey on the 12th. Pratt also had an eagle, one of the six - including two by debutant Indian S. Chikkarangappa - that landed on the day besides a stunning hole-in-one by rank outside Nabin Mandal, who did little else of note in his round of 77.
Three other Indians, young Angad Cheema, playing his first Asian Tour event, Chiragh Kumar, who lives a stone's throw from the DGC and finished second in the Indian Open two years ago at this very course and seasoned Sanjay Kumar shot two-under 70 each to be tied fifth on what was fairly difficult scoring day in windy conditions.
Defending champion Digvijay Singh played a very steady one-under 71 with two birdies and just one bogey to be tied 12th in a bunch of 17 players that included seven Indians. Shiv Kapur playing on his home course battled with two birdies in last five holes to come into red figures at one-under 71. Also tied at 71 was Anirban Lahiri with three birdies and two bogeys, Amardip Malik, Ajeetesh Sandhu, Vinod Kumar and Gulfam (Pappan).
Jeev Milkha Singh, the most successful Indian golfer, had back-to-back-bogeys on 15th and 16th, but still managed an even par start to be tied 29th, alongwith Chikkarangappa, who like Cheema was playing his first Asian Tour event.
Gaganjeet Bhullar struggled to a 76 with just one birdie against five bogeys, four of which came on the back nine of the course, which was his first nine. He will need a good solid second round to ensure action over the weekend.
"I am happy with the way things are, though I could have had a better score today. I played quite well and had some long putts, like the 25-footer on the fourth," said Chowrasia.
"The conditions were not all that easy. There was wind on almost all holes and one had to be careful off the tee. The greens were excellent, though I three-putted once."
Starting on the back-nine 10th, Pratt got his campaign underway with three birdies on holes 11, 14 and 18. An eagle-three on the par-five first then propelled him to the top of the leaderboard where he held on to the lead before closing with a flawless 67.
While Pratt is chasing his second win, Ormsby is eyeing his breakthrough on the Asian Tour, which is celebrating its 10th season this year. Ormsby birdied the par-three 12th before marking his card with more red numbers on the 14th and 18th holes. After making the turn in 34, he continued his birdie run on the first and sixth holes.
Former Ryder Cup star, Oliver Wilson, was in danger of missing the cut after a round 78.